Nicola Todd, Director

Encouraging more females into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers is a hot topic and is being encouraged by government and industry initiatives. The Ministry for Women created an online tool, STEM Directory, in 2016 to highlight related initiatives and to encourage women into STEM careers. Women make up around 23% of people employed in IT and 13% employed as engineers.    In 2019 the New Zealand and Australian Prime Ministers, Rt Hon Jacinda Adern and Rt Hon Scott Morrsion,  also announced an inaugural Women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bilateral dialogue.

Nicola Todd, Licensed Cadastral Surveyor, is a Director at Cuttriss Consultants, taking on the role at the young age of 28, after quickly establishing herself in the industry.  Nicola is passionate about encouraging more women to consider careers in the surveying industry and shares some of her learnings, and some of her tips and tricks to succeed.

Can you describe your career path to date?

I completed a Bachelor of Surveying (Hons) degree at the University of Otago before starting my first job in Waikanae and moving to Cuttriss Consultants in 2005. I became a Director at Cuttriss Consultants in 2007.   My expertise is in project management, small- to large-scale urban and rural subdivisions, and land transfer surveys along with a good understanding of planning and engineering.

What inspired you to become a Director at 28?

I have always been very driven to succeed. I think it’s a huge asset to have women in any leadership team. We look at things differently and this provides a better balance for your business – from dealing with people to making financial decisions. It’s often called ‘diversity of thought’ or as a business colleague has said, ‘a different set of optics’.

What do you think are the key skills in being a successful director?

A Director of any business (whether they are a business owner or Director of a Board) needs to have a well-rounded skill set including project management, leadership skills and critical thinking. Leadership skills are vital, I’m very mindful of how we develop the careers of our team. It’s also important to encourage a balance of work and family life. We have young mothers and fathers working at Cuttriss, along with grandparents who all have family responsibilities to consider.

What do you enjoy about working in the Surveying/Engineering/Planning Industry?

My career has evolved over the years. Being a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor is a great balance of both field and office work. I’m in a different phase of my career now as a Director.  I enjoy project management and I like seeing how people evolve in their careers and being the best at what they enjoy.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My role is quite varied – along with my Director responsibilities, I still do project work with clients. A key part of my role is also mentoring staff and helping the team with advice and direction. 

How would you describe the gender split in your industry?

There is still a greater number of men studying Land Surveying, but I would encourage anyone interested in surveying or engineering to think about this as a career – it’s incredibly rewarding.  At Cuttriss, our team differs in that we are well represented in surveying, engineering and planning with a good mix of females.

What are some key strengths needed to study surveying?

Typically, it’s great to have strengths in mathematics, design and written communication and be able to visualise in 3D which will assist with understanding plans.

What advice do you have for women aspiring to become a director in the industry?

Anyone considering working in our field needs to have clear goals and hone a wide range of skills including project management. I would recommend being really mindful of the needs of the team you are working with, and to establish yourself as a good leader – this includes helping other people grow which is a critical part of being a successful director.

If you’d like to know more about a career with Cuttriss please contact us on (04) 939 9245.